The best books for children that everyone should read

The Books I Picked & Why

The Bat-Poet

By Randall Jarrell, Maurice Sendak

Book cover of The Bat-Poet

Why this book?

This little gem was published many years ago but is still a beautiful, perfect story. It is an analogy for writers. Bat is impressed by the beautiful tunes of the mockingbird. He wishes that he, too, could compose such beautiful ballads. He learns to observe, to listen, to make notes, and to use his observations in the poems he composes. Haughty mockingbird tells him that he doesn’t know the rules of poetry but despite this, Bat makes the most beautiful poems and he is pleased to find a listener. Just like real writers.

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The Capybaras

By Alfredo Soderguit

Book cover of The Capybaras

Why this book?

With very few words, this story shows the importance of helping others. Life in the chicken coop is safe and predictable. Until one day the capybaras show up. They are large and noisy and the chickens were not expecting them and don’t really want to share their coop with them. But it’s hunting season and so the chickens allow them to stay. The adults stay away from each other but two little ones make friends and one even saves the other one’s life. Suddenly having strangers live among them, is good rather than bad. A beautiful tale with many undercurrents…

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The Library of Ever

By Zeno Alexander

Book cover of The Library of Ever

Why this book?

This is a fun read about a girl who ends up at a very special library. It’s fantasy yet realistic... a bit Harry Potter-esk in its magic as well as an exciting page-turner about evil forces trying to close libraries and block the path to learning. But the best part is the questions that the librarians get asked are real questions. You think you know the answer but you soon learn how important it is to do research and double-check. As I was reading, I googled and discovered the problems are real ones with unexpected answers. I learned so much! And if you like the first book, there’s a second book too!

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When My Name Was Keoko

By Linda Sue Park

Book cover of When My Name Was Keoko

Why this book?

I grew up in Europe and have heard and read much about World War II in Europe. But I did not realize how similar this was to life in (South) Korea under Japanese occupation. This book was an eye-opener for me, told in two voices – Keoko and her brother who are both given Japanese names and can no longer speak their own language. A gripping novel that makes a good read, even for adults.

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Ban This Book

By Alan Gratz

Book cover of Ban This Book

Why this book?

I love that Alan Gratz, a skillful storyteller, takes the important topic of banning and censoring books for children, and shows its dangerous side effects from a child’s point of view. We meet a well-meaning mother who wants to protect her child from, what she feels, are unsuited books in the school library. But one of those is Amy Anne’s most beloved book. She is not going to let these books disappear without a fight. In a respectful but effective manner she ends up showing the adults the importance of letting children make their own choices. 

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